Sunday, December 25, 2011

Interview with author Annie Bellet

Annie Bellet is currently on tour with CLP Blog Tours and the lovely Samantha asked if I would be interested in doing an interview with Annie. I hope you enjoy!


1. Describe a typical day of writing for you?

I don't know if I have a typical writing day. For a while I was working pretty solidly between noon and five or so, but then my husband lost his job and my schedule fell by the wayside. I've been struggling to get back to a schedule since then.

My new method I'm trying out is to set a timer for 45 minutes and write until it is done, take a break, do another session, rinse, repeat. Ideally, I'd get five or six thousand words done (about the length of a short story) in four or five "increments" like this (usually I write about 1k an hour, but I've found that with the timer on, I do that 1k in 45 minutes instead, which is kind of cool).

I also tend to bounce around on projects, usually having two or three things going at a time so that if I get stuck on something, I can let my brain work on it while I go work on a different writing project.

2. How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?

I don't know that I did. I think I was too busy writing. It was definitely a relief to have the work done (I spent 14 straight hours approving just the copy-edits). Maybe I will celebrate the sequel when it is out.

3. What is the first thing to go through your mind when you see a bad review?

That I shouldn't be reading it. Reviews are written for readers, not for me. I know I should stay away from them, (good or bad), but I just can't help myself (who can!?) so I try not to let them get me down. I'm writing the best books I can, which is all I have control over. Hopefully people enjoy them, but if they don't, me being sad about them expressing their opinion won't help anyone. And maybe a bad review will prevent someone else from reading my book who wouldn't have liked it. I want readers who like the sort of stories I'm telling, not readers who aren't my audience (which is often what a bad review indicates- that someone found the book who wasn't your audience).

4. Is there a genre that you want to write in that you haven't tackled?

I have an idea for a full on historical novel, actually. Not the sort of "borrowing from historical elements" that I've done before, but actually using real people, real events, set in a real time period, like some of the books done by Morgan Llywelyn or Dorothy Dunnett. My idea will take a lot of time and research, so we'll see if I ever get around to doing it, but I think it is good to try new things.

5. Your biography lists "many other nerdy pursuits" in your interests. What is your "nerdiest" like? (As a nerd myself, I will probably be nodding my head in agreement.)

My "nerdiest"? Hmm. Videogames are kind of mainstream now, right? I play table-top RPGs, but those are also sort of mainstream (which is great, I approve of more gamers in the world). One of the things my friends think is pretty crazy is that I watch StarCraft II videos as a sort of brain break between writing sessions, etc. It's like watching a sport (I watch high-level games mostly from Korea, but usually commentated in English). I guess that is kind of nerdy. I would play StarCraft II more, but my computer is on its last legs, and my wrists won't stand up to a lot of mouse use these days, so I try to save them for writing and get my SC2 fix by watching other people play.

6. If you were casting the movie of "A Heart in Sun and Shadow", who would you cast?

Eep. That's a tough one. I think I'd cast Molly C Quinn (she plays the daughter on Castle) as Aine, just because I think she'd do a great job of being strong/passionate and she's about the right age. For the twins, that is tougher. I think if I could find a younger, swarthier version of Michael Sheen, that would work. For Seren, maybe Tricia Helfer.

7. What is up next for you?

I'm finishing up the sequel, which is titled "The Raven King", right now. It should be out in January (maybe by the time this interview goes live).

Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.


Bio: Annie Bellet is a full-time speculative fiction writer. She holds a BA in English and a BA in Medieval Studies and thus can speak a smattering of useful languages such as Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Welsh.
Her short fiction has appeared in AlienSkin Magazine, Contrary Magazine, and Daily Science Fiction Magazine as well as multiple anthologies and collections.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a very demanding Bengal cat.

Official Website

Annie is on tour with her novel, A Heart in Sun and Shadow.

In an ancient Wales that never was… The twin brothers Emyr and Idrys are cursed to live as hounds; Emyr by night, and Idrys by day. The twins believe they will be trapped this way forever until they meet the fierce and curious Áine, a changeling woman born with fey blood and gifts struggling to fit into a suspicious human world. Áine unravels the fate of Emyr and his twin as all three of them fall in love. To free her lovers from the curse, she embarks on a journey to the realm of the fey where she confronts her own unique gifts and heritage. Ultimately, she must decide where her heart truly lies and what she’s willing to risk to get what she desires most.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest post: Naming Characters After People You Know by Denise Grover Swank

Naming Characters After People You Know

One of the first things a writer is faced with when creating a story is naming the characters. For me, this is like naming my children. When you name a child you have to test it out to make sure it’s going to work when the child is two or fifty-two. But with a fictional character, you have to make sure that you’re not going to get sick of typing hundreds of times. In Here, I used Julia 231 times. (Here is written in first person which accounts for the low number.) Evan is used 669 times and Reece is listed 391 times.

But there’s often more to a name than just liking the sound of it. Or how easy it is to type. When I wrote Chosen, my urban fantasy, I wanted the characters names to have meaning. The main female character was almost named Lenore, but it just didn’t sound right to me. Yet the meaning did. So I dug a bit more on baby names sites (the number one source of finding names for many authors) and found another name that was perfect. Emmanuella. But I couldn’t have my character running around with that name, plus I liked the idea of keeping it hidden for awhile. But that meant she needed a nickname.


Slight problem. My youngest daughter is named Emma. Honestly, I’m mature enough that I separated the two in my mind without issue. My Emma was a three year old. The Emma in Chosen was a twenty-seven year old woman who had did whatever she had to do to protect her son. But what would readers think? Would they think it was weird? In the end, I decided I needed to do what was best for the story and Emmanuella was perfect.

A few books later, I wrote Here. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wrote Here because my then thirteen year old daughter begged me to write a book she and her friends could read. I loved reading YA, so it wasn’t hard to agree. But her next request floored me.

“I want you to name the character after me.”

At first, I refused. “No,” I said. “That’s too weird.”

“You did it with Emma. That wasn’t too weird.”

“But that was different.”


“The two Emma’s were completely opposite. You’re thirteen and the character in the book is sixteen. It’s too close.” But I thought about it. Could I write a book using my daughter’s name for the main character that was close in age? Did I even want to attempt it?

In the end, I told her yes. And between her squeals of delight, I qualified my agreement: “If it gets too weird, I’m changing the name.”

It was a risk. I’ve never renamed a main character but I suspect it would be like deciding to completely change the name of your three year old. Did I want to face that challenge?

But a funny thing happened within the first chapter of the book: Julia Philips became a completely different and distinctive person from my daughter. I never once thought of my daughter as I wrote the book, other than to wonder if she would like the story when I was done.

I’ve gone on to use the names of people I know for other characters. The fun is making them completely opposite from who they are in real life. Thankfully, so far the name bequeathers have all enjoyed the results. Just ask the youth minister I made into an evil megalomaniac. He tells everyone he knows.

Book Review: Here by Denise Grover Swank

Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

This is my third review for work by Denise Grover Swank and I have to tell you, each one is so different and difficult to put down. The first thought is Julia is a mess, obviously not emotionally able to move past the accident and everyone around her at their breaking point. This girl needs help and she isn't getting it. And the bullying, no matter how little it is, from the other classmates and how they react to her is heartbreaking. Her parents and sister are at the point of giving up hope with her and life seems to be spiraling downward. The entrance of two very different boys, Evan and Reece, into her life change things more than Julia ever realized they would.

This book fascinated me. Alternate reality, space jumping, and pure imagination. I love how vivid the storytelling is from Denise Grover Swank. This is part one of a series and I'm going to be impatiently awaiting the second one to come out. A definite thumbs up for this YA novel. I would have loved this book in high school as well.

You can find Denise at the following:
Official Website
Goodreads page

Click on the link below to be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winner of "Family Pieces"

Thanks to Random.Org, a winner has been picked for the copy of Misa Rush's "Family Pieces"...
Congratulations, WENDY!!!

Just let me know if you want a print copy or ebook. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury

This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.

The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.

She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters. Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot. Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss. Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with. Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.

And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston. Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s! Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?

"A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" is such an interesting concept for a book. And what better place to have a mid-life crisis in the United States than in Sin City, Las Vegas? As Irene Woodbury described the sights of Vegas I also vividly recalled my own wild times spent there. You can tell that Irene has spent plenty of time in Vegas as she has such spot on descriptions of all the city has to offer.

The characters in the book are unique and quirky. They are full of flaws that they embrace as who they are. I found the characters of Wendy and Paula to be quite a bit self involved in the beginning of the book. However, I like that Wendy does recognize that she is unhappy and is not willing to put herself back in a situation, such as going back to her workaholic husband in Houston, until she had her head on straight and knew what she needed to do. And she ultimately discovers herself, which is what she set out to do. Of course, there is temptation along the way and ultimate decisions that have to be made. The staple for a good book!

Overall it was a really fun read and if Nevada needs someone on the board of Tourism to help get people to Las Vegas, they need to contact Irene Woodbury. Read at your own will be planning a trip to Sin City before you are half way done with this book. Or maybe it is just me. I'm already planning when I can hit up Vegas and hope to have a wild ride like Wendy.

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, Irene Woodbury’s first novel, was inspired by her love of travel writing. Between 2000 and 2006, her stories appeared in many newspapers, including the Washington Post, London Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, and Nevada and The Affluent Traveler magazines.

One of the author’s favorite destinations was Las Vegas; she always believed Sin City would be the perfect setting for a novel. In 2006, she came up with the idea for Slot, and, four-and-a-half years, and many visits later, it was finished.

Irene is convinced her book wouldn’t work nearly as well in any other city. “Las Vegas has a frenetic energy to it,” she says, “and there’s plenty of chaos and confusion to go around. Is there a better place for a midlife crisis? I don’t think so.”

The author has lived in two of the locations featured in her novel: Los Angeles, where she worked at the Los Angeles Times, IBM, and Time Magazine, and Houston, where she graduated from the University of Houston in 1993. She also got married in Houston. (Yes, like Wendy, her lead character, but Irene insists the similarities end there!) Her husband, Richard, a retired Time Magazine correspondent, edited her novel.

Since 1994, the couple have called Denver home. As for midlife crises -- his, hers, yours, mine -- Irene believes it’s a time for asking questions. “Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? That’s it in a nutshell,” she says. “Writing this novel has been my midlife crisis. And it’s not over yet!"

You can visit Irene at the following:
Official Website

Click on the link below to go to Irene's tour page and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interview with author, Irene Woodbury

Author, Irene Woodbury, took a few minutes to do a quick interview with me. I hope you enjoy it! Her debut novel, "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" is out now!

Who inspired you to become a writer?

The work of great writers like Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Bronte. Also, the poetry of T.S. Eliot and e.e. Cummings. It was inspiring, but also intimidating. Sometimes when you’re feeling both, it takes years before you attempt to write fiction.

What is your cure for writer's block?

A few hours of housework or cleaning out closets will get me back to the computer fast!

How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?

I went to Chicago, visited friends and family, slept in, shopped, attended a Cubs game, ate pizza and ice cream, and didn’t work for a week.

What is your favorite thing to do when you go to Las Vegas?

Hang out in the Flamingo garden on a Saturday afternoon and watch the weddings taking place. I love to see people all dressed up, smiling, and glowing with happiness as they take their vows in this brief, romantic ceremony, and walk away believing they will live happily ever after. I also love playing slot machines into the wee, small hours, and walking around the Bellagio and Caesar’s on Saturday night watching people from all over the world having a good time and getting along. The Strip is a giant, 24/7 international block party.

Who would you cast in the movie of "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis?”

Jennifer Aniston as Wendy

Cameron Diaz as Paula

Aaron Eckhart as Roger

Brad Pitt as Gary (It might be a little awkward for Jennifer and Brad to do the romantic scenes. Maybe they could use stunt doubles?)

George Clooney as Kent

Scarlett Johansson as Paige

Anne Hathaway (with a little nose enhancement) as Serena

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write what you want to write. Don’t worry about how others will react to it. No matter what you do, someone will be unhappy. That’s unavoidable, so come up with an idea you believe in, and do it. You have to spend so many hours, seven days a week, working on a story or book. It has to be something you love.

What is next for you? What project are you working on?

I’m not doing any creative work at the moment because I’m promoting “Slot.” Short term, I might go to Europe and do a travel story. Long term, I might do a sequel, or go in a totally different direction. But I miss writing, so it’s inevitable that I will go back.

Thank you for the fun interview, Irene!! (And to you as well, Samantha!)
You can visit Irene at the following:
Official Website

Click on the link below to go to Irene's tour page and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Book Review: High-Heels and Slippers! by Ella Slayne

Meet Josie Jenkins, a Brit living in Texas, fan of indulgent body-scrubs and the odd glass of wine. She’s currently Customer Service Manager at Harpers & Green Co, home of high-end shirts and also, rather unhelpfully, Bob Green: her ex-boyfriend (who also happens to be married). She is thousands of miles away from home and her job appears to be in jeopardy – safe to say, Josie’s going through a wobbly patch. So when the rather handsome Callum Doherty, (just picture blue eyes and Irish good looks) begins flirting with Josie, she is thrilled…until she realizes she’s not the only girl at work with her eye on the office heart-throb. How can she compete against her pert-bottomed rival from the accounts department? Josie’s love-life takes another complicated and unexpected turn when out of the blue Josie receives a mysterious Facebook friend request from her high-school sweetheart, Tom Barker. Tom is keeping something from her, drawing her in and causing her to question if it’s time to reconnect the past with the present. It’s time for some soul searching. Will Josie take the emotional trip back to the UK or try her luck with the handsome Mr. Doherty? Is there heartbreak ahead in Josie’s future?

I absolutely adored this book!! Josie is such a fun character. She puts her foot in her mouth frequently, she is a bit of a mess, but she is one of those characters that you just know would be your best friend if you met her.

Ella Slayne has such a charming voice to her story telling and I think I ran the gauntlet of emotions in this book. From the giddy moment of a realized crush to the heartbreaking realization that you can't cure what ails everyone. Two very different leading men to tempt our Josie's heart, Callum and Tom, make things very difficult. The supporting group of characters are a good combination and all bring a unique perspective to the story.

This is such a fun chick lit novel that I think everyone will love as much as I did. Ella Slayne has such talent and I hope we have something new soon from her.


Ella Slayne is originally from the UK and now lives in the US with her family. Her first novel, High-Heels And Slippers, is available as an ebook at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble and in paperback at Amazon. For more info please stop by her website: Highheelsandslippers or leave a comment on her blog: Ella Slayne. You can follow her on Twitter: here or check out her Facebook page: here. Stop by and say hi, she would love to hear from you!

If you leave a comment on Ella's blog page at Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Guest Post: Attraction to writers by author, Monique Domovitch

Deciding to become a writer was a natural extension of falling in love.

People often ask me what attracted me to the life of a writer, and I have to say it was a natural extension of falling in love…with books, which I have been for as long as I can remember.

I remember my mother taking me to the public library when I was as young as four years old, when she introduced me to Madeline, the little schoolgirl. As teenager, I discovered Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, and then Harlequin books. And then I really fell in love for the first time. I was in England where my friends introduced me to a book by Wilbur Smith.
I think I hadn't read ten pages of his book--can't remember the title anymore--when I knew this was it. I could spend the rest of my life in bed with this writer's books.

Over the next few years, this author’s books made me discover Africa, where I met animals I'd never heard of, and villains the likes of which I hope to never meet. I was swept into his stories of love and passion and greed; stories from which I never wanted to walk away. I devoured book after book of his, until, of course, the inevitable happened. I caught up with every last one of his books and was left adrift until his next book hit the stands. And I, fickle reader that I am, had an affair with a few other authors and then it happened again. I read Dominic Dunne. And wham. I was in love again.

With Dominic Dunne’s books, I spent time with the truly rich and the truly manipulative. How can anyone forget books like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, or An Inconvenient Woman, or A Season in Purgatory. Once I discovered them, I was hooked. Forgive me Dominic, for I betrayed you too, when I discovered my next big love, Nelson De Mille.

De Mille is a master of sharp, snappy talk and he makes all those words come out of the mouth of a sexy good cop with a bad attitude--John Corey. Now here's the funny part. I don't really know what John Corey looks like, except that he has scars on his chest from some bullet wounds. I also know that John Corey is almost as fickle when it comes to love as I am. He seems to fall in love with a different woman in almost every one of his adventures. That is, until he met and married Kate. But who knows, so far she's only been around for a couple of novels. For all I know she'll be dropped off, maybe even killed off in the next book, and then sexy John will be available again and I can go on dreaming.

Now here's something you might not know about me. I'm married, and—get this—my husband doesn't mind my little dalliances with all these long as I don't meet them in person that is.
And why am I blabbing about all these loves of mine? because, my dears, every time I start a new project, I hope with all my heart, that I infuse my novel with enough passion and ambition and greed that when you, dear reader, read my work, you will fall—perhaps just a little bit—in love with my characters. And I promise to be kind to you, even knowing that I will never be able to write fast enough to keep your from someday leaving me for some other writer.

C’est la vie!



Monique is currently on tour with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours for her novel, "Scorpio Rising".

If the cost of love was the loss of success, which would you choose? Some people have ambitions so great that they will trample anything and anyone to achieve them. Born in Brooklyn from an embittered mother, Alexander Ivanov climbs his way to a better life in New York. Thousands of miles away, beautiful Brigitte Dartois also has big dreams and raging ambitions.

Official Website

If you comment on Monique's Chick Lit Plus blog tour page, you are entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
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